“People Are Going To Turn Into A**holes”: ‘SNL’ Boss Lorne Michaels On Fame, Retirement & Cost-Cutting

Saturday Night Live boss Lorne Michaels has opened up about a variety of topics including how talent on the long-running show deal with fame, controversial hirings and firings, how long he’ll remain on the show and cost-cutting.

Michaels, in a rare interview with the New York Times, said that some stars from the NBC series struggle to deal with the spotlight.

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“No one can handle the fame,” he told the paper. “Generally, we’re more tolerant of it, but you know people are going to turn into assholes. Because it’s just part of that process, because no one grew up that way.”

On The Season 20 Finale:
“I only see the mistakes.”

On Avoiding The Spotlight:
“I’ve spent my life next to things in order to be more in the shadows,” Michaels said. “You’re supposed to be making other people look good.”

On Finding Talent:
“Mostly, you’re looking for whatever that spark is that says it’s original,” he said. “It’s just an instinct that the way their mind works, something more interesting is going to happen.”

On The Challenges New Stars On The Show Face:
“If you were the funniest kid in the class, or your school, and then you’re working professionally and everyone else in the room is that,” he said. “It can be upsetting or can be really stimulating.”

On The Week Before A Show:
“The idea that Friday night we still don’t have an opening is no longer terrifying,” he said. “It’s not common, but it’s not unusual.”

On The Hiring & Firing Of Shane Gillis & His Return To Host:
“I think ideas flourish in a moment,” he said. “They used to be called manias.”

On Stars Looking To Leave:
“Build a bridge to the next thing, and when it’s solid enough, walk across. But don’t leave on the first thing, because you don’t know what’s really out there.”

On Cost-Cutting (Including The Axing Of The Late Night With Seth Meyers Band):
“I think everybody had to go through belt tightening,” Michaels said. “I think the only person who really has faith in the network model right now is Ted Sarandos, who seems to be building one.”

On Retirement:
“I’m going to do it as long as I feel I can do it,” he said. “But I rely on other people and always have.”

The interview also included a couple of comments from stars and friends including Paul McCartney and Chris Rock.

McCartney told the paper that it was partly Michaels’ “calm” that made the show possible. “He’s a benevolent dictator,” he added. “He’s got a lot of craziness he has to pull together and select from, and he’s got to instill in everyone the feeling that this is going to work.”

Rock was on the show between 1990 and 1993. “I met Lorne in ’91 or ’90,” said Rock. “I’ve never been broke since.”

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